monk sitting on a bench by a lake


Life is made up of ups and downs, happy moments, and crises. However, way too often when we find ourselves in a tough period we forget about the seasons of life, we forget that it's just a phase and this too shall pass. Dealing with problems can be difficult. However, as Captain Jack Sparrow says, “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude towards the problem”. How do you think being passive will help you deal with a problem? It certainly won’t. How do you think being proactive and tackling a problem with confidence will affect your actions instead? In a winning way that will bring about the outcomes you are looking for, besides making you stronger, wiser, and better. Bottom line: our attitude can aggravate or lighten the situations we face. How to deal with problems that seem insurmountable then? Let the following enlightening Zen story widen your consciousness.


a bowl of salt

Once a young man was very unhappy about his life. He had many problems and felt depressed and terrible all the time. 

He got to know about a Zen master living in a nearby town and decided to visit him and ask for advice.

The young man went to him and said, “I have so many problems in life that I am always sad; please tell me how I can be happy".

The Zen master listened to him carefully, stood up, and left without replying. 

The young man was confused to see him leaving without saying anything but he waited for him.

After a while, the Zen master came back with a glass of water and a bowl full of salt.

The Zen master asked the young man to take a handful of salt from the bowl and put it in the glass and then drink that water.

The young man was confused but did as instructed by the master.

The master asked, “How does it taste”?

“It's terrible; all I could taste was salt”, the young man replied. 

Now the master asked the young man to take a handful of salt and come with him.

They both went to a nearby lake. 

"Drop the salt into the water!”, the Master said.

The young man threw his handful of salt into the lake.

Then the Master asked him to drink the water from the lake.

The young man took some water and drank.

“How does it taste?”, the Master asked.

“It tastes good”,  the young man replied.

The master asked, “Were you able to taste the salt in the water”?

“No, I wasn’t!”, the man replied.

The Master and the young man sat down near the lake; when the Master put his hand on the young man’s shoulder and said, “You see, dear son, the pain of life is pure salt, nothing more, nothing less. The amount of pain in life remains the same.

But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain into.

 So, whenever you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things.

Stop being a glass and become a lake". 


No matter how many problems and pains we may face in our lives, we can choose to dilute them in the vastness of our thoughts.

Everyone faces difficult times. There is no one in this world who doesn’t have any problems in their lives.

Difficulties and problems are part of our existence. If there is no problem and sorrow in life, there will be no joy either.

However, life becomes easier if instead of thinking about the problems we have, we start thinking about all the ones we don't have. It’s just a matter of attitude. 

When we focus on problems too much, the intensity of the problems increases instead of diminishing.

We become like a glass of water that gets bitter even with a small amount of salt in it.

When we expand our consciousness, when we shift our focus from the problems to the solutions - to what we can do about the problems we are facing - we become like the lake instead, and the problems themselves lose their bitterness.

“We can always choose to perceive things differently. We can focus on what's wrong in our life, or we can focus on what's right”. - Marianne Williamson

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Christian Caliendo
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